THE Government is looking for investment into irrigation infrastructure as part of measures to climate proof agriculture and guarantee year round production in the sector, according to a Cabinet minister.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka told delegates at the Zimbabwe-Dubai Business Forum in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last week that the policy thrust presented huge opportunities for lucrative returns to investors.
The business forum in UAE, organised by national trade promotion body ZimTrade, sought to grow trade and investment between the two countries.
Zimbabwe, the minister said, was looking to restore its status as the breadbasket of Africa.
Dr Masuka was in Dubai to canvas for investment into the agriculture sector to ensure optimum utilisation of the country’s extensive water bodies.
“Climate change is real. We want to climate-proof our agriculture and be able to build 350 000 hectares for irrigation from the current 250 000 hectares.
“Zimbabwe is the most dammed nation (in Africa) with over 10 000 dams, and we are looking for investment in these areas”, the minister said.
He also emphasised the need to expand investment into horticulture production, a sector he said had huge demand on the international market.
“So far, there is an investment opportunity in vegetables, tea and macadamia nuts. We need to expand investment so that we can benefit mutually.
“We are happy that Zimbabwe was offered a platform to showcase as it re-emerges as a giant,” added Dr Masuka.
This comes as the Government, working with development partners, has embarked on a massive irrigation programme to revitalise 60 small-holder irrigation schemes across the country.
Last week, Government officials, captains of industry and farmers met to explore measures to revitalise small-holder irrigation in order to transform communal farming into commercially viable business operations.
The Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA), mandated by Government to rehabilitate 450 irrigation schemes, is being used as rural industrial revolution too with focus on small irrigation development.
“This new model will deal with many challenges experienced by smallholder farmers, who, after being given machinery, sometimes do not maintain it until it collapses.
“This time around, we created a new business model which will be manned by business managers.
“This will ensure farmers are grouped, trained, given inputs and irrigation equipment to maximise production,” said ARDA official Kudakwashe Watetepa.
The small-holder irrigation revitalisation programme is designed to ensure small scale farmers are empowered to transform 6 100 hectares into sustainable irrigation business models.
Government through the ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development instituting various initiatives to revitalise smallholder farmers to achieve nutritional and food security.
The small-holder irrigation scheme business management approach feeds well into the Second Republic’s Accelerated Irrigation Rehabilitation and Development programme and, Horticultural Growth and Recovery Plan, which targets to put 350 000 hectares under irrigation by 2025.
Zimbabwe has a strong agriculture base which has seen the country become food sufficient last season, owing to good rains and the climate-proof Pfumvudza/ Intwasa Programme.